Nevis 2018, The Trip

At the sign of the Seahorse

Nevis, 2018

Basecamp: Seahorse Cottage

Hostess: The Inimitable Kay Loomis

GW Blog Seahorse

Preface

The first thing I have to ask is: why on earth has it taken me until May 16th of 2019 to start writing up my notes from the Christmas 2018 trip to Nevis?  My days, like the days of so many others, have fallen to an intolerable burden of busyness, trifles and urgencies, which pluck away the moments of life until you notice it is a half-gone carcass surrounded by plump carrion crows who feed minutely upon the seconds and grow fatter by the hour.  I remember Nevis: the stiff, short blades of shorn grasslawn underfoot, the scent of Kay’s garden, the texture of palmsbark against my own palm’s skin, the sky – royal and cerulean and tufted white – tracing the outlines of majestic palm fronds wafting overhead, the rumble of others jetting in, or out, and the closer cries of birds, the leaping monkeys furtive as smoke drifting through the trees, and goats breaking brush as they step out of the scrub forest and onto the little yard, bleating and cropping grass.  These are a smattering of memories and I could list a hundred more in quick succession.  I remember.  What I’ve forgotten is yesterday and the hurried succession of days before that, days spent tending to business so that business can afford us another too-short reprieve from essentially forgettable routine.

How long would a life lived with quiet attention seem compared to this one?  I believe it would be long and full if the days – even far fewer of them – were written in slower ink rather than great repetitive splashes of a routine so banal that our attention is typically somewhere else.  I don’t want life to be elsewhere.  I want to be where life is, or get there if it isn’t here.  And so S & I snapped awake, alerted by the nearing of Curacao, wide-eyed in the knowledge that we were approaching the island again, our vectors finally veering south with a nearness that shocks us out of our northern doldrums, a fresh breeze bringing the scent of spring through the screens, a chorus a tree frogs making our resounding Pennsylvania porch indistinguishable in sound from any remote porch in any tropic island we might choose to light upon.  Whatever it was that jarred us, we woke again to the gentle excitement of needing to prepare.  Order the bug dope and the sunscreen, replace one or two items of embarrassingly worn clothing, read up on-line and off, make a to-do list that isn’t too involved.  Prep takes place – at least in terms of time – more on the porch than in scurrying around the house.  Laptops rattle as we key our questions.  Wine is chilled then spilled into our glasses.  Books are read and quoted aloud.  If it’s a familiar island, we have to balance our repeats – favorite hikes, swims, eats – with the plotting of new experiences…caving, birding, a short flight or ferry ride to an out-island.  There is much to do, but it is not routine, it is the shattering of routine into a thousand fragments, each of them a momentary gem glittering as they fall before us and lead us, like children tracing breadcrumbs, racing before the trail is lost, to some distant place remembered as home.

Even as we’re debating whether or not we’ll hike Curacao’s Mount Christoffel again – and I suspect we’ll always say yes because it’s the biggest physical challenge Curacao offers me (I won’t be running the Schottegatloop even if every trip to Curacao offered the opportunity) – there’s a nag biting me.  If I really am going to blog, and if I’ve already been to an island since I nominally started blogging, then why have I not written up my notes from Nevis?  There’s no possible way this ‘blog’ will amount to anything if I don’t trot out some words on the stuff we have done.  Where is that confounded notebook?  And then while I’m worried about what I haven’t yet written, S has moved past where we’re going this summer and started talking about our 2019 winter trip and our 2020 summer trip with the girls.  We have airline miles to burn before they expire; depending on where, when, and how many are traveling, the miles can save us nearly a third of the cost of the trip, and that adds another trip to our travel budget.  In another room Drake is sending out emails requesting letters of recommendation so that he can get himself lodged on a future sailing vessel, this one departing Thailand and aiming for Bali, also in the summer of 2020.  We’re all like boulders sketched in some seventh grade science textbook, chocked yet teetering, on a craggy peak – enormous potential energy waiting to fall upon the world.

 

Before Nevis

As is usual, S picked our basecamp for the Nevis trip.  She has proven herself both penny wise (and not pound foolish) and experientially adept.  I trust her.  Not only do I trust her, but I usually want to be off making something or writing something, not reading reviews.  Steph can nurse a glass of wine by a winter fire or on the back porch in warmer times and there spend hours scouring reviews, hunting for prizes in the dross, seeking positive reviews written by folks who share our cents and sensibilities, folks who travel on a budget and who travel so see the natural beauty and wildlife, not the wild life, that each island has to offer.  For us, the flights, the cottage, condo, or villa, the rental car, and the food, is the overwhelming expense of each travel span.  Once those four items are covered, we’re usually where we need to be and quite content not to spend any additional fortune on entertainment….perhaps one splurgy day per trip abroad: a flight to Anegada, fishing off Grand Cayman’s wall, a catamaran cruise to several snorkeling spots.  Beyond that one woohoo bit of revelry per trip, we are cheap dates for each other.

S discovered Kay Loomis’s Seahorse Cottage just as she discovered Seaside Don’s Casa Ba-Ooooo (and if there’s an extra ‘o’ or two in that name, ooh-la-la, it is deserved!)  Anyway, Seahorse Cottage is a living piece of Nevis’ architectural history, a typical West Indian cottage with sturdy beams and planked walls & roof decking, an ample veranda, and a private bed/bath separated from the kitchen/living space.  Seahorse cottage found adaptive re-use first as a gift shop, then, moved up-slope to Kay’s current property, it became her guest house, first for family, then for fortunate guests.  And, as you might expect based on the cottage name, a hippokampus, mythic Greek forebear of our sea-horses and sea-dragons, decorates and announces this charmed shanty above the sea.

 

Nevis

What follows is harvested from my on-island Nevis journal, edited, cropped, expanded, and otherwise adapted, which is just what happens when I start transcribing and wind up expounding.

{Here I interrupt this broadsheet  – and it is one-sided, just try to flip it over, or to see it through a self other than this typist’s – to let you know why I sometimes post half-written pieces.  This demonic computer ate an afternoon’s worth of typed text, notes from Nevis interwoven with some threads of Verne and his Nemo.  Damn.  Well, I’ll try again.}


 

Nevis Miscellany

The Nevis Booklist – Here’s the list of what I read on the Nevis trip, along with editorial commentary on being born in the wrong f…ing century, my potentially violent pen’s write of excommunication, the medusa-form of jellyfish bodies, and sundry other tidbits.

The Nevis 2018 Reviews – Our reviews, mostly my reviews, of Seahorse Cottage, Sunshine’s Grill, and a few other places.  We should have written more reviews, but upon our return we were both swamped with work.  Maybe next time we’ll write more reviews while we’re still on-island.

Avoiding The Path – An updated version of the first blog post, which discusses Nelson’s Lookout and more.

Goat Vittles – A healthy portion of these tasty goats were eaten on Nevis.

Nevis Resources – One of these days…

The Goat Waters Header Image, Which Looks Like Nevis – This link will take you to The Mackenzie’s page, and somewhere on that page you’ll learn about her painting of the The Starry Sea, a portion of which seemed to resemble Nevis.